When he first put it on my finger, it felt strange, an alien being marking me for the mothership. How would I wear this for years? At the dinner and dance we held in a falling-apart barn after the wedding, I brought this dilemma to Ken’s aunts, three of us gathered tight in a corner to eat wedding cake.
“Oh, all of us felt that way,” Wilma said. “You’ll get used to it,” Eleanor added. They took off their rings, showing me how their fingers grew around their rings, leaving an inverse shadow. I did get used to it, and every so often over the years, I would pull off my ring and look at the white ring-shaped indentation left behind. When my fingers swelled during pregnancy, I even kept that ring off for weeks at a time, wearing it on a necklace instead, particularly during late pregnancy when I was warned it might have to be cut off if too much fluid expanded out my fingers.
Still, that ring was sized for me a long time and many less pounds ago, and so in the middle of our continuous excessive-heat-warning days this summer, I started to realize that the ring was too tight, too hard to get off. When I woke yesterday morning without it on my finger, I panicked and leapt out of bed hours earlier than usual to pull off all the blankets, looking for it. “There it is,” Ken said, all dressed and ready for his day, as he pointed to the middle of the bed. I must have taken the ring off in my sleep, a clear sign it was time to remedy what felt shrinking ring.
Last night, walking by the local jewelry store downtown, I saw the open sign was on, so I went right in. The woman at the counter, surrounded by shelves of crystal and silver, held the ring up as she filled out the order to enlarge it. “How
much is this worth?” she asked. We paid Ken’s uncle Clyde, long gone although his good work travels on our fingers, $60 for both rings together after Ken drew out what we wanted on a napkin: a slim diagonal design composed of two interlocking leaves with the smallest of diamonds between them. You can barely make out the leaves anymore.
I had no idea on a monetary value so just nodded when she suggested what seemed like an outrageous amount for my white gold ring, poured and pounded in Clyde’s Oklahoma City garage over 25 years ago. A ring, a circle unbroken, or at least in my case, temporarily cut open and expanded and then sealed back together, kind of like how marriage is. Whatever we thought when we put those rings on each other’s fingers and said, “I take your hand,” was cast in a narrower circle, long before we were broken open by children, work, loss and arrival of friends and family, shifts to community and land. Years from now, when I take off this ring enlarged, it will be almost impossible to even tell where precisely it was cut and added to, all of life surging over time to seal itself into the promise of each moment.